The Bergman Homestead
Monday May 18th
It seems Joe Bergman came back from Chicago with a touch of the flu.
Joe’s wife Laura exiled him to their bedroom Monday and basically told him to stay there and sleep it off until his fever broke.
So while Joe rested in the bedroom of the recently finished Bergman house, the movers – under Laura’s direction – worked downstairs finishing up bringing the last of the Bergman’s boxed up belongings into the house.
For several hours, Joe is impervious to the constant clatter of noise from the movers and Laura’s voice occasionally cutting through the din from downstairs. Laura occasionally pops her head in to check on how her husband is doing. For most of the day and early evening, Joe is sound asleep.
But at nine forty-five in the evening, Joe’s eyes open up and he slowly rolls over to check what time it is.
He blinks his eyes several times and re-reads the time on the clock.
Eyes widening, Joe whips the blankets off. He sluggishly gets to a seated position.
Bergman somehow manages to throw on a pair of jeans, shoes, and stumbles out the bedroom door. He reaches the steps and carefully navigates each brand new step of the stairway until he reaches the bottom.
There he encounters his wife.
“What are you doing out of bed?” she demands to know.
Joe points at the barn. Monday night is usually the night he works with the youngsters and enhancement talent wrestlers of Missouri Valley Wrestling inside the Bergman’s barn.
“It’s handled, Joe,” Laura tries to assures him.
But Joe doesn’t hear her. He’s already veered out the back door of the house and weaves his way towards the barn.
Laura calls out to him from the threshold of the door, “Joe! Joe, it’s taken care of!”
Joe continues his meandering path towards the Bergman barn.
She throws up her hands and closes the door.
As Joe approaches the barn, he hears nothing- no noise coming from inside.
“Aw crap,” he mumbles to himself.
But he sees a light on at the door. Bergman walks up and peeks through the window in the door. What he sees surprises and shocks him.
“Scott Stevens?” he says out loud.
Inside the barn, the Scorpion himself, Scott Stevens, sits in the middle of the ring with his wife and MVW Women’s champion Lisa Barbosa-Stevens surrounded by all of the youngsters and enhancement talent.
Joe also eyes Dawn McGill sitting on top of one of the corner turnbuckles watching the Stevens discuss their respective wrestling careers.
He just stands there and watches as the youngsters and enhancement talent listen raptly to every piece of information and experience that Scott and Lisa share with them.
Stevens happens to glance over and notices Joe looking through the door. He nods towards him and gestures that ‘he’s got this tonight.’
Joe mouths ‘thank you’ and gives him a thumb’s up. Then the Stevens resume their discussion with the wrestlers while Bergman turns and slowly trudges back towards the house. He’s met at the back door by Laura.
“Told ya,” she says, sweetly smiling at her under-the-weather husband. “He even gave up the Barn title tonight without too much fuss.”
“Oh?” Joe’s curious about this particular development. “How did you manage that?”
“Dawn McGill booked a thirty person over the top battle royale,” Laura explains. “It took five people . . . and McGill . . . to get Stevens over the top rope but there’s a new Bergman’s Barn champion.”
Joe almost allows himself a chuckle. But the aches and pains associated with what ails him catch up to him and he moves towards the steps.
Laura points upstairs. “Just go back to bed.”
Joe grunts his agreement and proceeds to tromp up the stairs. Laura hears the door shut and hears the bed squeak as her husband falls onto the bed and soon he goes back to sleep.
With all due respect to the remarkable run the current High Octane Wrestling Champion Cecilworth Farthington is on, if it weren’t for Farthington’s excellence HOW would be talking a lot more about the resurgence and rebirth of one Chris Kostoff.
Kostoff started off the year with a good LBI. But if you think about it, the Kostoff train really began to gain momentum at the March to Glory pay per view. In the cage match for the LSD title featuring Kostoff, Deacon, Alex Redding and the champion Max Kael, for the first four minutes of action, Chris Kostoff destroyed everything in sight – and I do mean destroyed everything in sight inside the cage. Max. Deacon. Redding. Oh, Redding. Kostoff seemed to take great pleasure in dumping Redding to the mat at every possible opportunity. But I digress.
For four minutes Chris Kostoff was the Chris Kostoff of old again and man did he reign supreme in that ring. And then Kostoff went for it all. He climbed up the cage and tried to win the LSD title right then and there. Kostoff damn well nearly made it out of there but for the long arm of the Deacon that caught up with him and pulled him back into the ring. Kostoff faded after that but he still left his mark in the match.
Then there was his match with the Egobuster Dan Ryan. I couldn’t wait to see this one when it was booked. The irresistible force meeting the unmovable object. The ring announcer Bryan McVay nearly became collateral damage when Kostoff charged Ryan right out of the gate. The match didn’t last long and – really – it didn’t need to. Two mastodons fighting hard, tooth and nail for five minutes and thirty-six seconds before Ryan finally put Kostoff away with the Humility Bomb.
Next, Kostoff speared Farthington out of his shoes two weeks later at Refueled Twenty-Three and No Remorsed him on the ring steps. Lee Best duly set up the title match between Farthington and Kostoff the next week in the main event. Mike Best said it best from the announcer’s table that night about Farthington facing the monster:
“This is like a rite of passage in HOW. He’s about to get the fucking shit kicked out of him, Joe, but he’s walking out with the title. And I wanna see it.”
As Mike Best promised, Chris Kostoff did exactly that and just beat the holy hell out of Farthington. He had the champion in big, big trouble. But in the end, like the champion he is whether you like him or not, Farthington found a way and managed to overcome the monster. In the end, Farthington slapped on the Article 50 and to make a bigger point- because that’s what he does these days – Farthington held the hold long enough to break Kostoff’s arm.
But not even a broken arm could stop Kostoff from continuing to go after the champion after the match. The man shoved a bunch of EMT’s aside and nearly made it out of the ring until medical personnel finally stopped him from going after Farthington.
So yeah. Facing Chris Kostoff is a rite of passage in HOW. I know when I step into the ring with him Saturday night that I’m going to get the fucking shit kicked out of me. But I am planning on walking out of there Saturday night with the win.
Why? Because I can.
Contrary to what Andy Murray may think or say out loud, I believe I am pretty useful inside the ring. Joe Bergman may be an ordinary two star wrestler swimming in a sea of superstars, or as Andy says a ‘vanilla- um . . . yeah, whatever the hell Murray said.’ Sorry, I tend to tune out one note droning after a while. But the facts remain that I do have are a very particular set of skills- skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that are apparently good enough to have made me a two time HOW World Champion and now one half of the HOW Tag Team Champions.
So am I going to use the Dan Ryan model where two men play a game of real life Rock em-Sock em Robots in the ring until the loser’s head pops up?
Nope. That would be suicide on my part. There’s not a chance in hell I’m going to go into the match foolishly trying to ‘prove something’ by standing toe to toe with you.
Am I going to use the Cecilworth Farthington model and hit you with the ring bell three times and then break your arm?
Nope. That’s just not my style. I’m not going to use ‘nefarious’ means and hardcore tactics to take you out.
Nope. I’m going to use tactics and smart wrestling to negate your overwhelming strength advantage.
The way that I will win the match Saturday night is by putting you to sleep- Dragon Sleeper style.
Now, I have a pretty good feeling how this match is probably going to go. You’re going to come out red hot and look to end this thing fast. I’m going to have to be the matador to your bull – the Muhammad Ali to your George Foreman. I’m going to have to spend the initial moments of the match making sure that I don’t get caught with a wild punch out of left field or let you spear me into the next area code. I’m going to have to make you expend a lot of energy trying to do the things you like to do: brawl, fight, kick, scratch, crush, kill, destroy, and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me. I’m going to have to counter when I can pick my spots and slowly try to wear you out.
And let’s be realistic, I know damn well I’m not going to be able to completely avoid everything you’ll throw at me. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be feeling the effects of this encounter for a few days afterwards. But as I found out in the Farthington and Ryan match at Rumble at the Rock, apparently I can take a pretty good beating and still come back for more.
But at some point, as long as I don’t do anything stupid, you’re eventually going to slow down. I’ll up the offense at that point and try set you up for the moment I slap on the Dragon Sleeper. That’s my game plan in a nutshell, Chris.
I’m not going to try to hurt you on purpose. I’m certainly not going to try to embarrass or disrespect you. I’m just going to go out there Saturday night at Refueled XVII to try and win the match.
The Bergman Homestead
Wednesday May 20th
Sitting down at the kitchen table for the first time in their brand new house for dinner, a rested, newly rejuvenated, and healed from illness Joe Bergman celebrates with Laura by cooking up a nice steak and potatoes dinner on their brand new stove in their brand new kitchen. Usually, Laura would imbibe in a glass of wine to go along with her food but owing to her pregnancy she instead just poured herself a glass of water.
On the other hand, Joe pops a top of a Pabst’s Blue Ribbon beer to wash down his food.
Joe was just happy to be upright and have a spark of energy again. He recognized that spending three days in bed rest while Laura had to juggle work – she worked from home – and put the house in order put a little strain on his wife entering the fourth month of her pregnancy. Thankfully, Dawn McGill stuck around for a couple extra days and assisted her – and did a lot of the heavy lifting for her – in putting the new Bergman house in order.
Suffice to say, Laura was more than gratified that Joe did the bulk of the cooking for dinner tonight and allowed her a chance to kick back on the brand new couch in the brand new spacious living room and watch her favorite Hallmark movies on their brand new big screen television.
But in the midst of dinner, it becomes obvious to Joe that Laura does have something on her mind.
“What’s up?” he finally asks.
“So tell me again about this meeting this Saturday with you, Andy Murray and Mario Maurako?”
Joe shrugs it off.
“I’m sure it’s another ‘attempt’ to get us on the ‘same page,’” Joe casually replies while doing the mock ‘air quotes’ thing with his hands.
“On the same page?” she replies.
“On the same page.”
“Okay, what does that even mean? What. Does he want you to be friends or something? I don’t see that happening.” Laura’s words come with a little bite to them.
This is really the last thing Joe wants to talk about tonight. But he knows his wife as well. She covers all the bases.
“Oh hell, we’re not going to be friends,” Joe says. “Andy made that clear the night I tried to do the political thing and make nice with him. So, I won’t be making that mistake again. Mario means well. I think he really does.”
Laura just blinks back.
“Okay. Why does Mario Maurako think you have both to be on the same page then?” Laura adds, “And what’s all this crap about Murray saying it’s become political?”
Again, Joe tries to shrug it off.
“No clue, dear. No clue.”
Laura tilts her head and looks down her glasses at her husband and puts down her fork.
“No. I want to know what the hell he means by it becoming ‘political?’”
“I don’t know,” Joe holds firm. “Honestly, dear. I’ve really stopped listening to anything Andy Murray says since the first interview we did with Blaire Moise.”
Joe hopes that puts an end to the inquisition.
“You mean to tell me you don’t care what about he says about you or what he says about his title belt?” she asks.
But Laura’s not done.
“Nope,” Joe says in between chews on his New York steak.
“The title belt that Murray calls ‘his’ title belt that you put ten minutes of sweat equity in wrestling a glorified handicap match against the Hollywood Bruvs at the Lethal Lottery while Andy Murray twiddled his thumbs outside the ring until it was convenient for his worship – the King of Wrestling . . . “
Laura stands and does a mock curtsy.
“. . . to finally decide to step in?”
Joe takes a bite of his steak and tries to let Laura’s comments pass without comment. He hopes that she’ll drop the subject and move on.
But Laura ups the ante even more and steps up on her soapbox.
No, seriously. Laura walks across the kitchen and kicks a wooden soapbox towards the dining room table while she works herself up into a proper ranting frame of mind to vent her spleen.
“Oh shit,” Joe mutters under his breath.
She gingerly stepped on top of the soapbox and goes off like a rocket exploding on a launch pad: “The title belt that you saved when Jack Harmen grapevined Murray’s leg and had him trapped before you jumped in and broke up the hold?” Laura’s tone turns more than a little more edgy.
“And he did the same thing when Harmen and Flair trapped me in their corner,” Joe points out to her and takes another bite of his steak. “I told you. I stopped listening to him and I don’t care what he does or what he says just as long as when we are wrestling together he keeps it completely professional.”
Now the finger point part of her rant starts and Laura gets a little more animated as she speaks. “By trashing you at every opportunity? A one-legged wrestler who managed to totally screw himself financially so badly that he’s basically tied to the hip in servitude to Mikey Unlikely and 24K has the fucking balls to trash you while he can’t even keep his own state of affairs in order? Really?”
Joe shakes his head firmly and tries to hold his ground.
“Look Laura.” He puts his fork down and finally begins to match his wife’s intensity. “I don’t care what Andy Murray says outside the ring nor do I give a rats ass what Andy Murray does outside the ring. I don’t care that he hangs out with and is good friends with Little Jimmy outside the ring. I don’t care what the state of his financial situation is because it’s none of my damn business. All I care about is one thing- that the man conducts himself in a professional manner when we wrestle as a tag team and defend the tag team belts. Period. End of story. That’s all.”
Joe and Laura’s eyes meet.
There’s an uncomfortable stretch of time that passes before Laura finally responds.
“If this is getting ‘political,’” she says slowly, methodically, the businesswoman inside of her coming to the forefront to advise her client, “and if this is that much of a big deal, then don’t you think I need to be at this meeting seeing as I am your business manager and agent?”
Joe looks up. His response is succinct and to the point.
Eyebrows raised, glasses about to fall off her nose, and steam coming from both ears – okay, that last part might be just a little hyperbole, Laura’s hands curl into fists and her face reddens just a bit.
“Look. I appreciate more than you’ll ever know that you have my back and you’ve always have had my back and you ready and willing to go to war on my behalf,” Joe tries to reassure her. “But I don’t need you to come to Chicago and fight my battles for me.” He tips his head back and guzzles down the can of PBR. “Darling, I’ve got this under control. I don’t think we need to make this out to be anything more than it has to be.”
Laura’s eyes flash anger for a split second. She’s about to unload an epically acerbic response from a vast repertoire of colorful metaphors in her vocabulary but Joe beats her to the word.
“And besides, Missouri Valley Wrestling is running a house show in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Saturday night and I thought you had to be there to oversee everything.” Joe smiles.
Then just as fast, the air in her bile-filled balloon escapes and she lets out a big exhale.
“Okay,” Laura says, finally giving her husband the impression that she’s backing down.
Joe thinks he’s in the clear.
“Maybe I’ll just send someone else with you instead,” she says, a wry smile forming on her sweet face.
But he’s not quite there yet.
“Okay,” he responds. “Who exactly do you have in mind?”
Chris Kostoff, trust me man, I know you’ve still got a lot left in the tank. I know you’re going to bring the pain, you’re going to bring the boom, and you’re going to bring hell with you into that ring this Saturday night at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. There is no way I am going to misconstrue your intentions when we meet in that ring. You’re coming with bad intentions- really bad intentions. You’re coming to do as much damage as you can. And I sure as hell know that you’re going to look at me as if I’ve got a giant bullseye on me.
Oh yeah. I know what you can do. A good friend of mine and someone who’s spent a lot of time in the ring training me, Dawn McGill – the former LSD Champion for thirty-five days back in early 2010 who you unceremoniously dethroned, once told me when she was on the receiving end of your No Remorse Powerbomb she felt as if her arms and legs were being drawn and quartered when she was driven into the mat by you. Her arms and leg joints simply ached for days after your match with her. Dawn’s warned me even though you may be a few years older that the power and hunger were still there.
And she’s right.
You’ve fought just about everyone that’s stepped into a HOW ring- yes you have. And you’re going to bring all that experience into the ring with you Saturday night just like I’m going to bring all the years of experience I’ve gained through the years working my way up the wrestling pyramid.
Clash of Titans? No, not quite. It’s going to be more like a Clash of Styles. Your strength and power versus my technical ability. A classic clash of styles.
Have I wrestled someone like you before in my years in the ring? No, not quite.
I mean, I’ve wrestled some tough dudes in the lower levels of the wrestling world. I’ve wrestled some guys who may not match you for sheer ferocity who, um, were extremely dangerous in their own way. I’ve wrestled some guys who quite frankly had no business being inside a wrestling ring and managed to survive. I’ve paid my dues and wrestled just about anyone and everything you can imagine in the cow towns, cow pastures, and every small town from coast to coast and between the Canadian and the Mexican border.
But I don’t think I’ve ever wrestled someone with your particular skill set.
So I’m going to take on this challenge with open eyes, Chris. I’d like to get this win Saturday night to shut a few people up who see Joe Bergman as nothing more than an one note novelty act who just happens to be one half of the tag team champions. I’d like to get this win Saturday night not to prove that I’m better than you, not to prove that I’m a superior wrestler, but because this is what wrestling is all about- competition. Using your wits and wiles and muscle to outdo your opponent. Wrestler versus wrestler. Style versus style. Heart versus heart.
You showed at March to Glory that you still have it.
You showed against Dan Ryan that you won’t back down from anyone.
You showed against Cecilworth Farthington that you’re still dangerous enough to seriously challenge for the top title in this company.
Trust me, no one’s forgetting you anytime soon, Chris.
But on Saturday night at Refueled Twenty-Seven inside the Allstate Arena just outside Chicago, Illinois, I hope to show you and the HOW world just what Joe Bergman is all about.
Let’s make it a match to remember, indeed.
See you in two days.